WordPress doesn’t have a function for subtitles, but if it did, the subtitle here would be “And why I’m giving it up for Lent.”
I had a conversation a couple weeks ago with a peer, who described her nightly routine. It involved a quick-fix dinner, a glass of wine, and a laptop open to Netflix. I blinked and only just managed to keep myself from blurting, “That sounds just like my nightly routine!” Netflix: the recourse of those crazy conservative young adults who say with pride, “I don’t have cable” (and even, “I don’t have a TV”), but somehow manage to be strangely conversant in all things pop culture.
Back when my sister and I moved into our little Old Town apartment and really established ourselves as adults, I made my first telephone call to the cable company to set up our internet. With a twinge of pride, I told the friendly Comcast rep on the other end that I wanted to set up wireless internet for my home. He immediately listed off all my options for cable packages, from “basic” to “premium” to “platinum,” involving varying numbers of stations and options for my entertainment needs.
I cut him off about two minutes into his spiel. “I just want internet,” I said.
He didn’t quite gasp, but there was a decided sharp intake of breath on the other end. Then, determined not to be put off, he dove in again, starting back near the beginning of the script. “For just twenty dollars more per month, you and your family can enjoy unlimited…”
I cut him off again. “No, I really just want internet. I don’t watch TV,” I explained.
The pause that followed this statement can only be described as “pregnant.” There was a decided gravity to it that made me blush a little. At last he repeated what I’d said, with the air of a man who has just undergone the shock of his life. “You don’t watch TV,” he said.
“No,” I said.
“I don’t know a soul alive that doesn’t watch TV,” he said.
So the poor guy didn’t make much of a sale. I got my internet-sans-cable television for $29.99 per month. To this day, I only pay for wireless internet, and I still don’t watch TV.
Except that I have Netflix. The roommates and I have Netflix instant streaming, which gives us access to hundreds of thousands of movies, television series and shows, stand-up comedians and goodness only knows what else. I can waste hours of precious time staring like an imbecile into the face of my laptop, and still claim with pride, “I don’t watch TV.”
I don’t watch TV, but I still manage to stay up too late many nights watching this or that, and then snoozing the alarm in the morning.
I don’t watch TV, but I still end up watching a movie or another episode (or two) of whatever show instead of responding to emails, or writing blog posts, or working on other more worthwhile projects.
I don’t watch TV, but I still end up wishing on many mornings that I didn’t have some dirty image or other lodged in my brain like a bad song.
I don’t watch TV, but I don’t have to. I can watch Netflix instead.
Of course, I don’t consider an occasional movie or television show to be a bad thing–not at all. Sometimes you need to wind down. Sometimes a little entertainment and relaxation can be a very good thing. It’s when said entertainment becomes a habit that it gets to be problematic. When you can list it as part of your nightly routine, it’s safe to say it has become a real problem. At the very least, it lays the groundwork for a whole lot of very real problems.
Thank goodness I have social housemates who prefer sitting around the dining room table together many evenings, enjoying a glass of wine and good conversation. More than anything else, I recommend community as the best antidote to too much Netflix.
Barring that, though, Lent is just around the corner…
(I’m afraid Netflix would probably heartily disapprove of this message.)